Sell on Amazon? Then you’re probably no stranger to vague delivery timelines for some of your more esoteric delivery locations under Amazon’s current shipping settings. A vague delivery timeline leaves you with two choices. You offer a ‘safe’ (read ‘scarily long’) delivery window that puts off potential buyers. Alternately, you take a chance and offer a competitive delivery promise only to discover that the actual delivery took twice as long as you estimated, your customer is irate and your seller ratings take a nosedive. All of these worries will soon be things of the past with Amazon’s new ‘Ship by Region’ shipping templates.
The new shipping settings on Amazon promise better control over the delivery promises you make to your customers, the shipping rates you charge at a SKU level and more. Before we jump into the thick of the hows, whys and wherefores of this update, let’s take a quick step back and understand shipping templates on Amazon and proceed from there.
What are Amazon Shipping Templates?
Amazon allows you, as a seller, to create and save custom shipping settings in a pre-defined format called a ‘shipping template’. Shipping settings range from ‘Standard’ and ‘Expedited’ to ‘Free Economy’ shipping. Each setting comes with its own unique transit times and shipping costs. These custom settings (or templates) can be applied to specific SKUs that you sell on the marketplace.
Here’s what a sample Amazon Shipping Template looks like:
You can potentially build multiple shipping templates based on your selling strategy. By assigning SKUs to a particular shipping template, you’re effectively determining how much those SKUs will cost to ship, how much time they’ll take to reach the customer and so on.
Amazon’s New Ship by Region Shipping Templates Update
According to the new shipping templates update from Amazon, all sellers will now have to migrate their existing shipping templates into a new Shipping Settings Platform. The new shipping settings are region specific and allow sellers better control over shipping rates and transit times.
As per Amazon Seller Central, here are some of the things you can do with this update:
- Set your own shipping transit times by state
- Use different shipping rates for Two-day Delivery by state
- Set transit times and shipping rates for the countries you want to ship to (U.S. sellers only)
- Set different shipping settings for different sets of SKUs
Shipping rates in the new format can be set in two ways – Per Item/Weight based and Price Band based.
- If you have preset Shipping Overrides / have an Overrides Feed that you use with specific SKUs, these overrides will not be supported by the new shipping settings. This means Repricing Tools that adjust both the price of the product AND shipping costs, will not be able to tweak shipping costs on the fly anymore. You will still be able to use repricing tools to adjust product prices to win a sale. Please take this exception into account by creating a unique shipping template for each override that you wish to continue using in the future.
- If you sell media items (Books, Music, Video, DVDs / BMVD items) Amazon will copy over your default shipping settings to a Shipping Template for each category of items. Like with other categories, Shipping Overrides for BMVD items will not be migrated.
How to Migrate to the New Shipping Settings
- Request to be added to the Ship by Region program
To migrate to the new shipping platform, you first need to contact your Amazon account representative and request to be added to the Ship by Region program. Once you’re added to the program, go to your Shipping Settings page and click on the ‘Migrate Now’ message at the top of the page to initiate the migration process.
- Modify Repricing Strategy and Disable Overrides Feed
Before you do anything else, modify your Repricing Strategy in your DemandStream Repricing rules to ‘Adjust Price Only’.
Next, disable your Overrides Feed by contacting DemandStream Support. It’s a good idea to log a Support Ticket to turn off shipping override alerts. Disabling overrides makes sure that all your SKUs will now comply to Amazon’s old shipping settings, making the transition to the new platform smoother.
- Shipping Settings Migrated Automatically
Once you’ve done these two preliminary steps, your existing shipping settings will be copied to the ‘initial’ Shipping Template for each marketplace (U.S., Canada, Mexico) in which you sell. You can edit this initial Shipping Settings template for each marketplace before confirming your migration.
If you have any SKUs in the Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime program, go to the ‘Prime Settings’ section on Amazon and manually enable ‘Prime Delivery’ in the shipping templates for those SKUs. Enable region-wise settings for these SKUs by clicking on ‘Add Prime Regions’ and choosing the regions you want these SKUs to be delivered when asked for ‘Select Deliverable Regions’.
- SKUs assigned to New Shipping Templates by Region
After you confirm the migration, all your product SKUs will automatically be assigned to ‘initial’ shipping templates for each country you sell them in. You will end up with one initial shipping template (per country) and all your SKUs will be assigned to that template.
You are free to edit these initial templates or create brand new ones with new shipping settings post migration. If you choose to abandon the initial shipping templates generated by Amazon and create new shipping templates; you can assign your SKUs to these templates using the Inventory Page, Inventory Loader Feed or the Product XML Feed.
- Migrating to the new platform in case of Shipping Overrides
Prepare your Shipping Override SKUs by grouping those with similar shipping settings into separate shipping templates BEFORE migration.
Now follow steps 1 through 4 described above and migrate all your SKUs (irrespective of Overrides) to the new platform. While migrating, adjust the settings of your initial shipping template to match the majority of your SKUs. Post migration, assign your SKUs with shipping overrides to the shipping templates you created while preparing your SKUs for migration.
- Migrating to the new platform in case of Books, Music, Video, and DVD (BMVD) Items
Since Amazon directly fixes the shipping rates for BMVD items, you will not have the option of setting shipping rates for these items (which you will be able to do for other product categories in the new platform) once you migrate these items over. You can however migrate these items as per steps 1 through 4 and then manually reconfigure the transit times and countries you want to ship them to post migration.
Post Migration SKU Assignments to Shipping Templates
If you have a large product catalog, assigning each SKU manually to your new shipping templates can be a time suck. Speed things up by using DemandStream to assign SKUs to specific shipping templates straight from your product feed.
You can quickly group SKUs in DemandStream using product filters and then apply content rules to dynamically alter or populate content for specific channels.
In the field ‘Shipping Group Name’ populate the name of the respective shipping template. You can populate this field using the product feed you send to DemandStream, or by editing the field in DemandStream using either content rules or the Product Content Editor.
When will the New Shipping Settings Take Effect? – Updated
All of this may seem a tad complicated right now. But you have no reason to worry. As confirmed recently by Amazon, they will be communicating migration deadlines to individual sellers in the months ahead. Keep an eye out for those. Migration deadlines will be set at the seller level, and will be phased from end of September 2016 into the first quarter of 2017 (required deadlines may be subject to change).
You can ease your store into the migration with help from DemandStream support and Amazon Seller Central during this time period. Do note, once you migrate to the new shipping platform, you will be unable to revert to the old version.
For any questions regarding the migration, assigning SKUs to the new shipping templates, or just selling better on Amazon reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help!